I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Interesting Tid-Bits from Last Thursday's Workshop: GK Passage Problems and Yes--Incentive Pay Will Help Keep Teachers in Challenging Schools

One of the most interesting parts of the conversation at this month’s regular workshop was the discussion concerning Warrington Middle School.

I’ve mentored a student once weekly at Warrington, so I have developed a feel for the way things are going at that school this year.  It is challenging, but this school has changed DRAMATICALLY since the 2008-2009 school year when I mentored a different student at Warrington.

So after we discussed the merits of continuing a third year of the One Year Turnaround with Turnaround Solutions, at a cost of nearly $400K, the discussion took two interesting turns…

First, discussion of the silent yet real problem that exists at Warrington and several other schools in our district:  Getting teachers that want to teach at such locations to pass the General Knowledge (GK) exam so such teachers can be certified.  After numerous tries, if a teacher cannot pass this test, they cannot teach, they cannot be hired.  And district-wide there are several dozen teachers that are struggling to pass this exam---several at Warrington.  You can read about the GK exam here, and see sample test questions….

The other great and interesting conversation that happened concerned teacher pay.  The Principal of Warrington, when I asked about teacher retention there, expressed her frustrations.  “If we could just pay them more, we could keep more of them” she explained.

Of course I jumped in and attempted to engage a conversation about my STRONG SUPPORT for paying teachers in challenging assignments a higher wage---yet I was shut down from talking about this by the Chair---which was unfortunate.  I was simply glad to hear someone that gets it, Mrs. Lipnick, verbalize what I and many others in this district know:  Until we pay these teachers more

 and make it cumulative, the 10-12 inner city schools that serve the populations with the highest levels of social dysfunction in our district will continue to churn through staff.  Half-measures won’t get it fixed.(see this great discussion beginning at minute 41:50 of this video   --in  Consent Agenda (Part 1 of 2)

We know what the solution is----I’ve been screaming about it for the last half-dozen years at executive meetings and whenever I can at workshops.

Pinellas County gets it---and they are doing something bold in an effort to keep their experienced staffs at their most challenging schools.

Too bad we are so unwilling, apparently, to try this here.  It really is sad because we can do better if we could just muster the will to quash the status quo and marshall the courage to do it…..


Anonymous said...

Why did the Chair shut this down? What's the argument against it? One possibility seems that maybe people think incentive pay wont work because teachers will just do the same (potentially) average job anyway, so maybe the argument is that it doesn't matter one way or the other. So maybe you gotta show why these teachers are driving change and making a difference to show its worth it!!

Just a thought! :-P

Jeff Bergosh said...

I believe the reason the chair shut the discussion down was that the subject of teacher incentive pay was not the subject that was on the agenda for discussion----this said, I think it would have been appropriate to discuss further, but you can see from the video, my fellow board members and the superintendent did not want to hear me get on my soap box again on this issue.....I have literally worn this group out over the last 6 years on this topic because I know this is tho ONLY way we will keep experienced, veteran teachers at these hard to staff, inner city schools. Let's face it, the principal got a pay bump for coming to Warrington. Teachers that come to this school and schools like it should get a pay differential because they receive NO SUPPORT from the homes when compared to schools in the suburbs. Eventually, this wears teachers out and they transfer out. Maybe they would not in year 8 or 10 if their paychecks take a $5K to $8K hit when they transfer out to the suburbs, right? It is happening in Pinellas County Florida right now because they see what I see, they see a solution.

Anonymous said...

Higher pay is not going to keep teachers at a school where discipline is weak. When teachers can't be supported by a strict administration and parents that raise their children up to be respectful, the difficulty level of teaching increases exponentially. If I drive to work and think everyday, "What are my students going to do in class that tests my boundaries?", I may not want to work there. There needs to be a dramatic if not biblical proportion shift in how we treat students. Extending out the number of lesser infractions and itemizing infractions is not the answer. This was done I believe to lower the referrals overall. The students realize this and then are free to carry out more lesser events and wear the teacher down even more. We can be strict and we can be fair. The students like to know someone is in charge and that there will be discipline. They like to feel comfortable in class. The ones that aren't comfortable are the ones who would be disruptive. Private schools do better in some cases not because their teachers are better. They do better because the parents have an investment. If the student acts out then he is put out.